Monday, 20 February 2017

Missed Classic 37: Snowball (1983)

By Ilmari

Since we don’t want to exhaust Joe with his marathon, we’ve given him some time off. In the meantime, I’ll take the opportunity to continue the story of Level 9, a text adventure company founded by the Austin brothers and known affectionately as the British Infocom (yes, this is going to be a sideshow). As those familiar with my earlier reviews of Level 9 games might remember, I have been less than enthusiastic about their games. We’ll see if Snowball fares any better. At least it is a change from their earlier, Tolkien-themed works and foreshadows nicely Joe’s upcoming Starcross-posts.

So, is that a giant net for catching space fish?

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Gateway - Virtual Reality

Written by Reiko

Broadhead Journal #9: "Seriously, we’re not done yet? Now I’ve got to go activate the whole shield system because there’s a control center at the Vertex in the same star system as the Assassin’s watchtower. If the Heechee had just activated the thing in the first place, this wouldn’t have been necessary."

I'm almost ready to trigger the fourth shield generator, but I still need an actuator cell to fix the controls if I don't want to dig up the one buried by the trailhead.

Getting the actuator cell out of the wreckage is a rather delicate operation, involving multiple tools and quite a lot of technobabble. I'd poked around earlier and saw that the actuator panel looked relatively intact, but was secured with grommets that I couldn't remove. I examined everything again and this time saw that the maintenance crib could be opened, so I did that and found a flange defuser and a grommet wrench. Now I should be able to do this.

Technobabble for Heechee technology.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Eternam - Sunshine of the Spotted Mind

written by Aperama

Eternam is getting to the point where I repeatedly ask myself a simple question: 'why?' The problem is the direction of this query. At first, it was 'why would the developer do this'. This is actually a fairly common question as I look into games, particularly with a critical eye turned towards things given the relative age of the games we're playing here. Using the 'latest technology' at the time is often the explanation for a relative drop in quality (e.g. the FMV revolution to truly kick in some time soon on this blog). I'm past asking that question, as the answer to that is simply not one I have the capability to understand. I don't operate on that 'either crazy or genius' level and likely never will. The question I'm now asking is 'why am I even playing this?' Even with the impetus to complete the game for the blog, I'm struggling heavily with that question. The other bad games I've played here have at least had the saving grace of being short – this feels like it's gone on forever already! There are things that make you appreciate other, finer things. One might read Hamlet and find that they're encouraged to watch it as a live play, making their appreciation for the artistry of the performers that greater. Eternam on the other hand makes me long to read Twilight for its incredibly deep and emotionally strong female protagonist.

It is, after all, a game that has us watched by our robotic overlords

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Missed Classic: Zork III - Won! And Final Rating

Written by Joe Pranevich

Hello, sailor! Last week, I started into Zork III, the final chapter of the original Zork trilogy, and explored much of this new region in the Great Underground Empire. I discovered an ancient aqueduct on an icy lake, a “scenic vista” that could teleport me into previous (and future!) Zork games, and battled a mysterious man in a land of shadow. The game has been fun so far, but more melancholy than previous outings. There are no inept wizards or sneaky thieves here, only monuments to a dead civilization. I have a bunch of puzzles to solve on my way to the Dungeon Master and I need to get cracking.

But where should I start? I don’t feel like I’ve made it through any part of this game completely and the structure makes telling a cohesive narrative of play challenging. Just like I did way back on Dungeon, I find myself bobbing and weaving back and forth between puzzles to discover which one I can crack first. Adding to the difficulty, the score in this game is worthless. There are only seven points in this game. Seven! Worse, these points seem to be awarded based on puzzles found rather than ones solved; I spent a chunk of today’s post with a full load of points but nowhere near victory. Let’s play!

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Gateway - Digging Up Secrets

Written by Reiko

Broadhead Journal #8: "Three down, one to go. How much worse could it get? This last one is habitable at least. And I’m not the first one to end up here, either, although from the look of his ship, the other guy might have met a messy end. I’d better keep my eyes open as I look for the shield generator."

Before I go to the last shield generator planet, I decide to follow up on the repairman's clue about someone doing something interesting at midnight on Level Babe. There's not much there, just an east-west corridor with blue Heechee metal at both ends. One end also has a large shipping crate that I can hide inside, so I hide and wait until the appropriate time.

A scientist named Gordon Perry appears and hits an artifact on the Heechee wall, making a pure tone. Sounds like another tuning fork! He puts the artifact into the blister and then does something I can't see from the crate that causes a portal in the wall to form. As he passes through, he conveniently drops a slip of paper. I run out and get it [5] and then hide again until he passes through again and disappears down the corridor. The paper contains a five-digit numerical code.

You can't tell in this picture that I'm hiding inside a crate.

Out of the crate and duplicating what Perry did.